I ask the question (entitled above) to ameliorate and refine my learning of linguistics, as a novice. So please advise what I might have misunderstood about etymology.

Please correct me if I erred, but I suspect that the downvotes relate to the following comment (upvoted 6 times):

Many words have meanings which are inconsistent with that implied by their etymology, as you well know, since you have often mentioned your awareness of the etymological fallacy. Why do you keep asking questions which are about nothing but this inconsistency? – Colin Fine

My answer is as follows:

@ColinFine Because such inconsistencies can reveal historical and diverse thoughts and opinions? Or they can reveal and encourage attempts to conciliate semantic drifts? For example, your comment applies to the etymology of trachea, but which nonetheless can aid one to understand the Greeks?

  • 3
    Questions of the kind "why was this downvoted?" usually go unanswered, not just here but on almost any forum. All I can tell you is that I did not vote on the question.
    – prash Mod
    Sep 24 '15 at 17:40

I didn't downvote the question, but I can tell you why I would have, if I had. I have no idea what use that information would be to you, though. The quotes from textbooks simply reflect reification of IPA transcriptional practice. An affricate has a complete closure ("a stop"), and there is a significant release sequence. There are different theories of that later aspect, one being the "Dummies" definition which just stipulates the stop-plus-fricative sequence theory (incorrect, in light of Polish stop plus fricative clusters as in [t ʃɨ] vs affricates as in [tʃɨ]), and the Demers et al. definition which points obscurely to the SPE characterization ("releasing secondarily into a fricative", overly reifying the consequences of the speed of the release, which SPE sees as being only "similar to a fricative").

The "separation between the stop and fricative" is not a primary fact about the meaning of the term, it is an artifact of particular contemporary ideologies about affricates. You should focus on the meaning (and ideology) surrounding the first use of the word qua linguistic term, in the mid 19th century (as far as I know), which requires knowing who coined the term, and what they were thinking.

Your question unreasonably assumes that there should be a regular and obvious relationship between the wording of the definition for a technical term in a modern textbook, and the much earlier Latin source. This is contrary to the nature of arcane nomenclature, where you have to know the circumstances surrounding first use (e.g. why is the J(/psi) meson called "J"?). The semantic leap from "rub" to "fricative" is the same in nature as from "rub against" to "affricate", so you should first attempt to trace these linguistic terms back as far as you can. Reading the early texts where "fricative" and "affricate" were first introduced (and knowing what impelled the replacement of "spirant" with "fricative") is important to understanding the semantic leap in question. What term preceded "affricate" in linguistics, presumably in German?

  • 2
    I wasn't the downvoter either (can't anyway, don't have the rep), but my suspicion is you nailed the rationale with "Your question unreasonably assumes that there should be a regular and obvious relationship between .. the definition for a .. term .. and the much earlier .. source". AKA the "etymological fallacy" LePress constantly professes awareness of but just as constantly ignores. I honestly don't think he believes it.
    – Dan Bron
    Sep 26 '15 at 11:05
  • Well I was the 5th one, just maybe Jan 22 '19 at 16:54

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